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Banned In China / China

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The trope Banned in China is named for the People's Republic of China, a country famous for banning works seemingly arbitrarily. It might not be the most prolific, but it's certainly one of the most visible, because (a) China is a big country and a big export market, so producers want their works to make it there however they can and (b) China is also very authoritarian and fairly paternalistic, so the government has a lot of power and inclination to ban anything it feels has a bad influence on the people. This, of course, would include works which criticize or undermine the government, make fun of China or the Chinese as a whole, reference the more unpleasant events in China's recent history (particularly ones involving the Communist Party of China, as well as the Second Sino-Japanese War, which remain a sore point between China and Japan), or even risk inciting a revolution that could depose the communist government in favor of democracy. Any works created by someone who supports independence for Tibet, Hong Kong, or Taiwan might incur a ban also. (Surprisingly, no one is talking about Macau, even if the same rule still applies there.)


Censorship of media is generally handled by the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), with a strict pass-fail rating system similar to that of The Hays Code: either the film is appropriate for all ages, or it's rejected, without any ratings in-between. As with most other countries, the censor board's failure to rate a film equals a ban. The criteria for passing are often arbitrary, vague, or otherwise secret, so it's not easy to determine in advance what will pass muster, and fosters an industry of self-censorship. Some individual theater managers will have unofficial ratings for films which otherwise pass, but these are relatively rare and separate from the government sanction. On the other hand, some media supposedly banned in China were not banned at all, often due to mistranslations thanks to lack of independent verification and the wide cultural and language barrier between China and the Western world.


This system, by the way, does very little to stop domestic consumption of foreign works in China. Piracy is huge there, and it can't be prevented for the most part. The bans are seldomly enforced, and supposedly banned works can often be bought at flea markets, and experience a rise in popularity due to the Streisand Effect. China's media legislation is also well known for its quotas of foreign films allowed to be shown in the country per year as a means of protectionism. With China's massive population and growing economy, foreign media producers wanting a piece of the massive official market in China have become increasingly willing to censor or re-cut their own works to seek the approval of Chinese censors.

A note is that the rules apply equally to domestic and foreign media, with local producers getting the extra headache of receiving constant Executive Meddling in just about every stage of production, so Chinese productions tend to be very linear and watered-down.


This banning policy only applies in the mainland. Hong Kong and Macau are Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic, and they aren't governed by this scheme; they have their own, independent rating systems. This is how some works can be shown in Hong Kong but not in the mainland.note 


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Death Note was banned in China for allegedly inciting anarchy and insubordination, after some kids and teens were caught using ripoff notebooks to make hit lists. That being said, it did receive a Cantonese dub and was aired in Hong Kong.
  • Code Geass was once banned in China for its themes of rebellion and the dignity of oppressed minorities. The second season also portrays China as a nation of starving citizens oppressed by a group of power-hungry creeps using the twelve-year-old heir to the throne as their puppet, never mind that this is a Whole Plot Reference to Romance of the Three Kingdoms before a bunch of Japanese guys lead by a white guy incite a revolution and overthrow them, which doesn't help matters. It was un-banned in 2008. Allegedly, the real reason it got banned was because of the nudity.
  • Yaoi Genre manga, anime, and games have been suppressed, banned and regulated in mainland China and Hong Kong for fear that "[r]eading too much [yaoi] material will change [girls'] sexual orientation somehow"; see this academic paper. A couple of Yaoi magazines such as BOLO and 801 Kano are still being published as special issues of other publications, though.
  • In 2015, the Chinese government started cracking down on "violent" and "sexually oriented" anime and manga in print and the internet. These include Blood-C, Psycho-Pass, Attack on Titan, Tokyo Ghoul, High School Of The Dead, and Deadman Wonderland, Devil May Cry: The Animated Series, among others.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX and Slow Start were pulled from Chinese streaming service iQiyi after being reported to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. A heated Flame War between fans of DARLING and Violet Evergarden led to the former being reported for immorality, with Slow Start being pulled as well due to sharing a producer, A-1 Pictures.
  • Some Chinese manga websites often restricts access to the Ecchi genre for local IP addresses.
  • My Hero Academia received a ban after it was leaked that an evil scientist previously known as the Doctor's real name would be "Maruta Shinga". "Maruta" was the Japanese code name for human experimentation conducted by Unit 731 during World War II, so the name opened up some old wounds for the Chinese government. The author and publisher issued an apology and a promise to change the name, but the damage was already done.
    • However, despite the ban, there's still many My Hero Academia-related videos posted by users on bilibili website without being taken down or problems.

    Asian Animation 
  • Numerous episodes of Beryl and Sapphire, a Chinese show based on Ocarina's webcomic of the same name, were kept off the shelf due to depictions of homosexuality.

    Comic Books 
  • Chick Tracts are illegal in China.
  • During Mao's regime, the Tintin comic book albums The Blue Lotus and Tintin in Tibet were unavailable, while other Tintin stories were. After Mao's death, the stories were eventually released, but the title of Tintin in Tibet was changed into "Tintin in Chinese Tibet", since China has occupied Tibet since the 1950s. Hergé and his lawyers sued successfully to get the title changed back.

    Fan Fic 
  • In China, people have been arrested for writing gay fanfiction, especially erotica. This hasn't stopped China's Sherlock and Supernatural fandoms though.
  • As of February 2020, the fanfiction site Archiveof Our Own has apparently been banned in China. On 29 Feb, Archive staff responded to reports that the site was inaccessible that the matter had been investigated and the problem was not on their end. There have been some rumors that this was due to complaints by one of the actors in the Chinese drama, The Untamed, over the portrayals of his character in fandom, especially ones involving queer content. This makes the situation quite ironic if the rumors are true. The Untamed is adapted from a popular Boys Love web novel, Mo Dao Zu Shi.

China automatically "bans" (or, more accurately, puts a quota on) all non-Chinese movies, only giving special permits for a fixed number of foreign films to be shown per year. In theory, this protects their domestic film industry from bigger-budget foreign competition. In practice, it has spawned a massive and well-established market for pirated foreign movies. They also use the ban to pressure Hollywood studios to include favorable depictions of the country in films and discourage anything that portrays the nation in a bad light. PEN America has published a lengthy report on the pervasive influence the Chinese government has come to have on Hollywood studios seeking to avert this trope.

  • The movie Temptress Moon was promoted in the United States as "a seductive new film so provocative it was banned in its own country." As a writer to Roger Ebert's Movie Answer Man column pointed out, "considering that its own country is China, that's not such a big deal."
  • Many of Zhang Yimou's films. To Live (1994) has never been shown in China, due to negative portayals of Maoism and the Cultural Revolution; the film also got Yimou himself banned from making movies for two years. Other of his films such as Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern were eventually released after serving a couple of years in Chinese movie jail.
  • Any form of discussion about the oppression of the Tibetans or the Tiananmen Square massacre (if it is in media or not) will get you arrested and scrutinized by the Chinese government. The government-approved history textbooks will only give them cursory mention, if at all. Among films banned for addressing these topics:
    • Seven Years in Tibet is banned, and so are the two stars, Brad Pitt and David Thewlis. Director Jean-Jacques Arnaud was banned as well, but has since been invited to make a movie on the Inner Mongolian culture, The Wolf Totem.
    • Kundun, another movie with the Dalai Lama, is also banned from China, as were director Martin Scorsese and the late writer Melissa Mathison. On top of that, it was a Box Office Bomb and put Disney in hot water with China regarding Mulan.
    • The Wolf Totem itself averted this, but barely. The book would have been banned, as the author Jiang Rong was arrested and imprisoned for his participation in the Tiananmen protests. This is the reason why he remained reclusive despite that novel's success; he knew he wasn't that trusted.
  • The good news: China celebrated Ang Lee's winning of an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain as a triumph for Chinese people. The bad news: Brokeback Mountain is banned in China for its depictions of homosexuality. Also, Ang Lee's from Taiwan, but that's another discussion.
  • The mainland Chinese film Lost in Beijing have fifteen minutes of content was removed because censors felt that negatively-portrayed China as plagued by greed and sexual temptation, and even have to remove scenes including several seemingly innocuous scenes depicting China's national flag, Tiananmen Square, and even a scene of a Mercedes-Benz driving through a puddle-filled pothole. The heavily edited version were made shortly before the Berlin Film Festival, but too late for the version to be subtitled in German and English, and an unauthorized uncut version screen instead. As a result, the film was banned in China and the writer-producer Fang Li and the production company Beijing Laurel Films were banned from filmmaking for two years by SARFT. The censors also stated that the film's marketing included "unhealthy and inappropriate promotional materials" and that Fang allegedly illegally distributed "unapproved and pornographic clips" through the internet.
  • The Hong Kong film Ten Years is believed to be banned in China for depicting a bleak future for Hong Kong under Beijing's control. The broadcast of the 35th Hong Kong Film Award, in which this film was honored for best film, was also banned in China for the same reason.
  • Trivisa, an another Hong Kong film, is believed to be also banned in China because Jevons Au (who also directed Ten Years) is the one of the three directors in this film. Mentions of the film at the Hong Kong Film Awards, at which it won five awards including Best Picture, were also censored in China.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End can only be shown in China if all the scenes with Sao Feng in them are edited or modified to remove him. Apparently, he is a "negative portrayal" of the Chinese (although honestly, it would not make that much of a difference on the film's plot).
  • Over the Hedge is banned in China due to its "deception of a free world" and for showing the deaths of animals on-screen.
  • Warner Bros. had refused to screen The Dark Knight in China for its portrayal of the Chinese criminal accountant Lau (played by Singaporean Chin Han) and implying that Hong Kong police are corrupt, for fear that it would offend the Chinese. However, it is apparently one of the most popular bootleg DVD titles in China.
  • The second Tomb Raider film was banned for depicting China as having "secret societies".
  • Martin Scorsese was already banned from entering China after making Kundun, a biography of the Dalai Lama. And then The Departed was banned for having a scene with Chinese authorities buying advanced computer chip technology.
  • Mission: Impossible III gave the government some cause for concern, as it depicts the Chinese police as incompetent and shows poor living conditions in Chinese villages. There is also one scene where graffiti advertising a document forgery service (which is apparently a big business in China) can be glimpsed. Interestingly, it is re-included in the Warner Home Video DVD release.
  • Raise the Red Lantern was banned in China — until it helped raise their tourism.
  • The Red Dawn (2012) remake was considered likely to face legal or financial problems in China due to its portrayal of a Chinese invasion of the US, leading the makers to change the villains to North Koreans. However, it ended up being Allfor Nothing, and this movie still not released in China.
  • It's commonly believed that China bans all movies concerning Time Travel, as Chinese culture has so much respect for its ancestors that it will not allow a depiction of them that will necessarily be somewhat inaccurate. It turns out they don't ban it outright, but they do have a guideline discouraging it, which included a recommendation that filmmakers no longer adapt the Four Great Classical Novels either.
  • Avatar was released in China, but its 2D version was pulled from cinemas very quickly afterwards despite the film being the most popular shown in China ever. It was long rumored that this was because oppressed Chinese citizens could be inspired by the film's message, but at least part of it was also because it was eating into the profit margin of a state-sanctioned biopic of Confucius that was running concurrently. They never had a problem with the 3D version, though.
  • 21 And Over wasn't banned in China, but it was heavily altered. The original is a pretty straightforward college comedy about an Asian-American student and his antics during his 21st birthday. The movie also explicitly states that his family has lived in America for five generations. The Chinese version turns him into a Chinese exchange student in America and becomes a cautionary tale about "the perils of a hedonistic West and the importance of embracing one’s roots." They even shot extra scenes at a Chinese college for the second version.
  • A scene from Men in Black 3 where Agent J neuralyzes a bunch of Asian tourists in Chinatown was cut from the Chinese version. The Chinese government viewed the scene as a criticism of Internet censorship.
  • Forty minutes were cut from Cloud Atlas. This included a same-sex romance and a straight sex scene. The censors also wished to make Cloud Atlas into more of a "popcorn movie" to appeal to audiences.
  • While not banned in China, Skyfall was censored to remove a scene in which James Bond kills a Chinese security guard. The subtitles also remove a mention of Severine's time as a child prostitute in Macau.
  • In the 3D version of Titanic (1997), Kate Winslet is framed from the neck up in the famous scene in which she is drawn nude by Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • For Iron Man 2, all mentions of "Russia" or the "Russian" language are removed. For example, Justin Hammer's line of "I don't speak Russian" is changed to "I don't speak your mother language." The comments section contains a few theories on what motivated this change.
  • Iron Man 3 saw a number of production changes to avoid this fate in China, especially because it was being co-produced with Chinese involvement (a recent form of Loophole Abuse to make a Hollywood film enough of a Chinese production to not be subject to the quota, and also give the "foreign" studios additional funding)
    • The Mandarin, who is a classic Yellow Peril villain in the comics, is played by Ben Kingsley in the film. The Chinese government would likely not have allowed a portrayal closer to the comics.
    • Chinese actors Wang Xuquei and Fan Bingbing were also added to the cast. Fans speculated that they would be playing Chinese Marvel characters such as Collective Man or Radioactive Man; as it turns out, they were both Advertised Extras (specifically Dr. Wu, and his assistant) for special scenes that were added exclusively to the Chinese cut of the film. Chinese audiences were not impressed.
  • Django Unchained was initially banned in China. However, it may get a release after scenes involving nudity, excessive violence, and "politically sensitive" topics are edited out.
  • Despicable Me 2 was initially banned in China, but was allowed a release in December 2013.
  • Subverted, incredibly, by V for Vendetta, which was released in DVD in 2006 and was aired on TV in December 2012.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey was not banned in China; the studio didn't even try to release it there, knowing that it wouldn't pass the censor board.
  • While it was not banned, Pixels was edited to remove a scene showing the aliens blowing a hole in the Great Wall of China out of fears that it would get the movie banned over there.
  • Crimson Peak may not get released in China due to censorship guidelines discouraging films promoting "cults or superstition." This also extends to ghosts and other supernatural beings depicted in realistic environments (stories based on Chinese mythology are exempted).
  • Star Wars:
    • While it was not banned, a Chinese poster for The Force Awakens shrinks down John Boyega.
    • Many scenes in The Rise of Skywalker featuring Force Ghosts were edited worldwide due to Chinese restrictions on the depiction of ghosts. Some have speculated that this and certain race-related controversial alterations were made in reaction to Chinese reactions to the relationship between Finn and Rose, and Disney wasn't about to dare the censors to make the biggest international market unavailable to the Skywalker Saga finale for any reason in light of this.
  • Deadpool
    • Deadpool (2016) was not released in China, as the producers claimed it would have been impossible to cut all the copious violence, sex, and bad language and end up with anything resembling a coherent film.
    • Deadpool 2 also wasn't initially released in China for the same reason. Turns out that Once Upon a Deadpool (a Christmas-themed, PG-13-rated re-edit of 2), was mainly done to secure a release there. It was released in the Middle Kingdom January 25th, 2019.
  • Sausage Party was withheld from release in China for the same reasons as Deadpool: raunchy, violent, profane, and animated to boot. Between the inevitable cuts and the equally inevitable angry parents taking their kids to see it because hey, cartoons are for kids!, it was deemed safer to just not release the film at all.
  • The co-writer of Doctor Strange (2016) C. Robert Cargill claimed this was the main reason behind the controversial decision to "whitewash" The Ancient One in Doctor Strange (2016). China has become such a huge market for Marvel films that the studio didn't want to risk pissing off the Chinese censors by casting an actor or actress from Tibet, while the original comic book character invokes Yellow Peril stereotypes, so making the Ancient One white and British was seen by the producers as the least offensive alternative.
  • The 2016 Ghostbusters reboot was barred from release in China, allegedly due to an obscure guideline against the depictions of supernatural beings and ghosts, but a financing partner for the movie, based in China, clarified that the real reason was because there was little hype for the movie in that region.
  • Christopher Robin was denied an official release in China due to falling outside of the quota on foreign films. As listed under Western Animation, many have speculated that the ban partially due to censorship of Winnie-the-Pooh and comparisons of the character with Chinese president Xi Jinping.
  • In an interesting case, Bohemian Rhapsody was not initially released in China but was in March 2019 after much wrangling over the content. Inevitably it was released with all the same sex relationship and drug elements edited out. A total of ten scenes were changed, including scenes where Freddie Mercury comes out. So much was edited out that the general consensus of the people who saw it was that it was incomprehensible. This AP article talks to a man who’d seen the original cut while on a work trip to the UK and the edited version back home and was amazed at how different they were.
  • Maverick's jacket from Top Gun was altered for Top Gun: Maverick, removing the flags of Japan and the Republic of Chinanote . This is likely due to Tencent Pictures, a Chinese company, being one of the film's financial backers, although it is not know whether it is the same jacket from the previous film.
  • Ironically, all media coverage of Mulan (2020) was banned due to the negative publicity caused by its star Liu Yifei praising Hong Kong police for their crackdown on pro-democracy protesters as well as its links with government departments in the Xinjiang province, where the government is imprisoning members of the Muslim Uighur ethnic group.
  • Monster Hunter, based on the video game of the same name, was flooded with negative reviews and pulled from theaters after a Chinese character made a pun about "Chi-knees", which was reminiscent of the "Dirty Knees" schoolyard rhyme used by Americans to insult Chinese and Japanese immigrants.

  • David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series, about a future world ruled by Chinese lords, is banned in China.
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a book about the Cultural Revolution, persecution of academics and the educated, and Book Burning. Since this is one of the books studied in Hong Kong international schools, there have been at least a few cases of students finding their copies unexpectedly confiscated.
  • An aversion: contrary to what you might expect, 1984 is readily available. note 
  • Jung Chang's family history Wild Swans, which recounts the sufferings endured by her family during the Cultural Revolution, is banned.
  • American journalist Michael Meyer's The Last Days of Old Beijing, about the three years he spent living in one of the hutongs of that city teaching English, was banned for five years, presumably for its depiction of the lives of poor residents struggling to save their historic neighborhoods from urban renewal projects spearheaded by corrupt officials for their developer friends. Apparently, though, the real reason is that it shows mainland China and Taiwan in different colors on a map in the frontispiece. Five years after publication in the U.S., the ban was lifted, and Meyer's Chinese publisher sent him on a book tour. However, by his count the Chinese edition still cut almost a page's worth of passages. "Better 400 pages of book than no book at all. In China, you take what you can get," he said.
  • Any travel-book that is primarily centered around Taiwan or Tibet are banned in the country, especially if it lists either country as being a separate country to China on the map, or if it mentions the Dalai Lama at all. This even extends onto books that are focused on China, but do list either country as being separate.
  • Green Eggs and Ham, believe it or not, was outlawed in 1965 because they claimed it portrayed early Marxism. The ban was lifted in 1991 and the book was released in simplified Chinese shortly afterwards.
  • In the 1930s, pre-Communist China banned Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Perceived drug references? Nope, Civilized Animals. The censors felt that presenting animals as equal to humans was a bad message to give impressionable children.
  • You are not allowed to mention the novel Long Live The Emperor because, according to one defector "long live" is considered to mean "forever." And, while the current President Xi Jinping is president forever due to his removing of China's term limits on the President, nobody is allowed to talk about that fact.
  • Being that Maoist China was staunchly atheist, The Bible was banned and all foreign religion outlawed during his reign. Although the Chinese Communist Party still has an antipathy towards organised religion (except for Taoism), since the '90s they have at least become tolerant of Christianity and Judaism being practiced.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Go Princess Go is one of the not-as-rare-as-you'd-think cases of a Chinese series that ended up getting banned in its own country. China's infamous censors refuse to allow the uncut version to be aired. The version they eventually allowed is missing more than a third of the original series. In this case the reason they banned it is obvious; the series is about a man who ends up in a woman's body and falls in love with his/her husband. It's also about Time Travel, something the censors weren't too keen on in the early 2010s, so it's a miracle it managed to be aired at all.
  • The last episode of the historical series Towards The Republic was censored, as it ends with a speech by Sun Yat-sen about the merits of democracy. It was un-banned after internet release.
  • On The Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson revealed an email he had received claiming that his program's internet broadcasts were banned in China. He jokingly took this as a threat, saying "double entendres and fart jokes are too threatening to the mighty Chinese regime," and lamented that they would therefore miss his guest for the evening, Morgan Freeman.
  • Portions of the broadcast of Anderson Cooper 360 that aired from May 2, 2012 onwards on CNN International were blacked out in China when it discussed developments with political activist Chen Guangcheng, particularly when alleged threats made towards Chen and his family by the Chinese government were mentioned.
  • As of April 2014, The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, NCIS, and The Practice have been banned from Chinese video services for unspecified reasons.
  • In January 2015, the State General Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television ordered Agent Carter and Empire removed from Chinese streaming sites due to a new regulation stating that a show's entire first season must be submitted to the government for review before any episodes can air. The previous regulation only required a show to be approved on an episode-by-episode basis.
  • Doctor Who was previously banned due to the portrayal of Time Travel; as stated above under Film, the Chinese government frowns upon positive portrayals of time travel or any "inaccurate" depictions of the past. The government would not like people getting the impression that an era before Communism is preferable, especially one with a monarchy. However, in 2017, BBC Worldwide signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese media company Shanghai Media Group Pictures making the revival series, Torchwood and Class available on the mainland, with first refusal for four series after Series 11 in the event they were commissioned.
  • Many western dramas and Toku series were taken down in 2017 allegedly due to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. It would seem a ban is now in place.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was banned on Chinese social media after a segment critical of President Xi Jinping.

  • Until mid 2016, Lady Gaga was one of the best-received Western pop stars in China. Her music was then banned after she posted pictures of her meeting the Dalai Lama on Instagram.
  • Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy was not only banned for the title alone, but also because of mentions of the Falun Gong, a Mystery Cult in China who the Chinese government exclude out of the media.
  • The littlest things rile up the censors, apparently. The Pet Shop Boys album Yes was almost banned over the final track "Legacy", due to this verse: "Time will pass/governments fall/Glaciers melt/Hurricanes bawl" (emphasis added). Both parties allowed its release on the condition that the song be left as an instrumental.
  • The Chinese government occasionally attempts to ban, water down or censor Chinese things. China-based Visual Kei/gothic rock band Silver Ash, for example, have over the years come up against several tricky bits of legislation. One of them briefly forced them out of rock altogether, causing them to go on a lengthy hiatus.
  • Rather confusingly, one of the most popular rock bands in China, Miserable Faith, is famous for its songs about freedom and suppression, but it’s not banned. In fact, they still attend most of the rock festivals in China and "spread freedom".
  • Miley Cyrus is banned in China because she pulled a slant-eyed face in a hacked smartphone photo, a gesture that can commonly be interpreted as mocking Asians.
  • Rihanna isn't banned in China, but some of her music videos such as "S&M" and "Bitch Better Have My Money" are banned for very obvious reasons.
  • Björk was deported and had her music banned from the country after her performance of the song "Declare Independence", where she began to chant "Tibet! Tibet!". While she wasn't banned off-the-bat, her attempts to argue against the government's decision was what led her music to ban.
  • When The Rolling Stones played China as part of a world tour, they were specifically told by the government some of their songs were forbidden, such as "Brown Sugar", which was about an interracial sexual hook-up.
  • Kraftwerk is apparently not allowed to perform in Beijing for their commitment to perform in a Free Tibet concert (which was canceled due to bad weather).
  • Back in the 1960s, China banned its own National Anthem for a time. This occurred when the guy who wrote it was declared an enemy of the state during the Cultural Revolution. During those years, it was unofficially replaced by "The East Is Red", which glorified Mao's Cult of Personality.
  • Justin Bieber has been banned from performing or visiting China due to his reckless behavior when visiting the Great Wall in 2013 and his arrests for DUIs.
  • Starting in late 2016, China banned Korean Pop Music and all forms of Korean entertainment due to South Korea's missile agreement with the US known as the THAAD system. The ban has been lifted since then.
  • Hip-Hop, after gaining widespread popularity thanks to the success of the Chinese rap reality show, The Rap of China in 2017, the Chinese government started clamping down on it the following year.
  • Zedd was banned in China after liking a South Park tweet mocking China for banning the show. (See the Western Animation folder for the tweet in question.)
  • Mo Li Hua, a popular Chinese folk song, was banned after it became associated with the 2011 Jasmine Revolution protests.

  • Microsoft has a list of "banned words" that are discouraged in its speech recognition. "Tibet" is one of them due to strong Chinese sales.
  • The Chinese government banned the purchase of Windows 8 from internal use in retaliation of Microsoft's end of support for Windows XP.
    • Averted with Windows 10 as Microsoft, learning from the aforementioned ban, had been working hard to introduce a version of Windows 10 that comply with Chinese data collection standards.
  • The Chinese-language version of Windows 95 was halted after users discovered references to anti-Communist slogans such as "Communist bandits" or "reclaim the mainland" in programs furnished by Taiwanese contractors, both of which were used by the Taipei governmentnote .
    • A later patch was made to remove the offending terms from the input system.

  • In October 2019, Tencent, the Chinese rightsholders of the National Basketball Association suspended their involvement with the league after the owner of the Houston Rockets made a Twitter post in support of the Hong Kong protests.

    Tabletop Games 
  • China used to ban depictions of demons and human skeletons, so many Magic: The Gathering cards had their art altered for release there, and many others were simply not released in China. None of the Chinese finalists during this period made it far in the Pro Tour finals because they simply didn't know how to play with the full collection of cards. The ban was lifted in 2008.
  • Chinese authorities banned all live accounts and broadcasts of Ke Jie's Go matches against a computer system developed by Google — likely in retaliation for its past demonization of the company and its services in the country, and possibly under the belief that a top player losing to a machine would be an insult to Chinese culture.

  • The opera Turandot was banned for many years for depicting Chinese (read: unintelligible Eastern) culture unfavorably. The ban was repealed in the late 1990s, and the opera has been since been performed on a Chinese stage on at least one occasion. There is a particularly good DVD of it being performed in the Forbidden City with a large Chinese ensemble, suggesting that they have thoroughly gotten over the ban.
  • Downplayed with Michael Jackson The IMMORTAL World Tour, a Cirque du Soleil tour. At the first performance in China in 2013, the audience was shocked to see the famous image of the Tiananmen Square "Tank Man" during the "They Don't Care About Us" video montage, even though the show was prescreened by the country's Ministry of Culture. The image was cut for subsequent performances in the country.

    Video Games 
Due to the large amount of video game piracy in China, many video games are never officially released or localized in China, and translations of such games often fall to the hands of fan translation groups. With the rise of online digital distribution platforms such as Steam however, many of the supposedly banned video games can be bought in China. In 2019, Valve is in talks of launching a Chinese version of Steam to comply with Chinese video gaming legislation, featuring curated games only, but has no plans to block the global version of Steam from being accessed in China.
  • Between 2000 and 2013, China banned all video game consoles, largely because the government had very little control over what was released on them. Then Nintendo made the iQue Player (based off Nintendo 64 architectures) specifically for the Chinese market, and that allowed China to ease into allowing importation of video games and consoles again, just with strict regulation of the type of game that can be imported.
  • China banned the strategy game Hearts of Iron and its sequels for depicting China as a fragmented nation split into various warlord factions in the main campaign, which begins on New Year's Day 1936. Also, Tibet is depicted as an independent state under the rule of the Lamas. The Chinese censors did approve a Game Mod which features a unified China.
    • Many historical based strategy games such as Age of Empires, Total War, and Civilization will often avoid having civilizations such as the Tibetans or the Uighurs as playable factions mainly to avoid this trope (especially Age of Empires where the second installation of this game is relatively popular in China). note 
    • The Chinese versions of Civilization IV replaced Mao Zedong with Tang Taizong as one of the leaders of China due to political sensitivities.
    • Interestingly averted with Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4, where both games had Tibet as a playable faction, yet those games aren't banned in China. This is likely due to the games featuring historical kingdoms of Tibet such as Yarlung and Guge, and the Chinese censors pretty much only care about depictions of Tibet during the 20th century.
  • Some Command & Conquer games have been banned in China, which doesn't stop them from being some of the most played and modded games there:
    • Command & Conquer: Generals — Zero Hour was banned for allegedly smearing the image of China and its military, which is shown in the games as being somewhat sympathetic, if a little brutal, nuke-happy, Geneva-prohibited-incendiary-weapons-happy, propaganda-happy, and land-mines-happy, though not suicide-happy and anthrax-happy like the GLA. This may also have to do with the depiction of a GLA nuclear attack in Tiananmen Square in the beginning of the Chinese Campaign in the original game.
    • Some copies of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 has its campaign cutscenes abridged, though the in-game voices remains without subtitle. However it is later revealed that only pirated version had this effect, due to the necessity of compressing the game into one disc.
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is banned in China yet rather popular there. This may be because China wasn’t big on either the Soviet Union during the Cold War or Japan in various other conflicts.
    • Averted with the original Command & Conquer: Red Alert despite its heavy anti-Soviet themes, and to this day it remains one of the most popular video games in China.
  • I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike was banned for "defamation of a national character" months after initially passing the censors - in other words, for having an evil Chinese general as an Omnicidal Maniac. It was discovered later that the publisher sent to the censors an incomplete version of the game that omitted the China-set levels in an attempt to avert the ban.
  • People's General, a sequel to SSI's Panzer General, was never officially released in China due to its China Takes Over the World campaign, where Chinese force invade Russia and Taiwan, drawing the USA into World War III.
  • The third entry of Koei's P.T.O. wargame franchise was never officially released outside of Japan. An attempt at a Chinese translation was cancelled after Chinese localization staff quit in protest due to the game's ability to play as Japanese forces in the Second Sino-Japanese War, a highly sensitive topic in China. As a result, the fourth entry of the franchise removed all battles set in China.
  • Battlefield 4 is a weird situation. Many news reports in China reported that the game has been banned for allegedly discrediting China's national image and presenting a threat to national security as a "cultural invasion", and many sites in China banned "Battlefield 4" as a keyword. However, the game is very much completely playable in China since day 1. Sale of the game on retail platforms is prohibited, but Origin can still be downloaded without use of VPN and BF4 can be purchased and downloaded through it. With the censorship ban being lifted a few years later, the game now feels like it's not even remotely banned in China.
  • Having the North Koreans as bad guys in the FPS Crysis seems like a transparent attempt to avoid being banned in China. Set in the year 2020, they have landed on an island in the South China Sea, and possess gear more advanced than they would be likely to have, like a large guided missile cruiser and nanotech suits for their elite guard. Their presence in the region and their capabilities would seem much more plausible if they were Chinese. And if you look at early concept art and search through the game files, you will find that China was originally going to be the enemy human faction in game.
  • The game Homefront does basically the same thing: North Korea seemingly subjugates Japan and all of Southeast Asia before invading the US some 20 Minutes into the Future. Word of God confirms that the villains were originally going to be Chinese, but they changed it when they were told that this could result in not only the game but the entire development team being banned from China. Amusingly, the game's now banned in both Koreas.
  • Averted with Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, a game placing the player in the role of a United States Marine as part of an operation to liberate a Russian oil-rich island from Chinese invaders. There is no attempt to disguise the enemy; they are blatantly the PLA, with weapons and equipment modeled as accurately as possible based on whatever information the developers could find. This was apparently enough to get it not banned in China. If this Google-translated article is to be believed, the game is appreciated for its accurate modeling of PLA gear and the opportunity to "play as the enemy."
  • The Fallout series are also surprisingly not banned, if independent reports were to be believed, despite the game has (in backstory and certain characters only) strong anti-Chinese overtones.
  • While not outright banned, Fate/Grand Order had the full card art and head shots for the servants Boudica and Mata Hari censored in the Chinese release due to them having some of the biggest busts of all servants. Bizarrely, the ban only applies to those two servants; not only have other servants with similar or larger size bustsnote  avoided the ban, but servants that are based around actual Chinese historical figures, such as Jing Ke or Zhuge Liang, have been able to avoid such a fate as well - in particular, you'd think that the servant version of Xuanzang, who not only is a very important Chinese figure, but also has a bust sized rather similarly to Boudica and Mata Hari's, would also be banned, but strangely, she's not. Incidentally, Boudica and Mata Hari are the most scantily clad Servants that aren't swimsuit Servants, which just might be related to the reason they're banned.
  • Devotion by Red Candle Games was banned because of a placeholder image found in the game that referenced Chinese president Xi Jinping, comparing him to Winnie the Pooh (see "Western Animation" below for other details). The game was released on Steam in February 2019, and when Chinese netizens found out about the placeholder art they began review bombing Devotion, and later on made claims that other references found in the game -as well as the whole plot- were actually expressions of anti-mainland China sentiment by the game's Taiwanese developers and that they were mocking that same Chinese audience that liked their previous title Detention. The situation snowballed to the point that Red Candle were forced to remove the game from Steam, remove almost any mentions of it from their official site, and the game's Chinese publisher had its license revoked. In July 2019 Red Candle posted on their social media an official apology which said that Devotion wouldn't be re-released on Steam "in the near future", implying that the game is now dead and buried.
    • In December 2020 it seemed that the game was going to be released again thanks to's online store. However, mere hours after the announcement, GOG removed it citing some nebulous complaints from "gamers", which most likely are fear of retaliation from Chinese companies.
  • In October 2019, Blizzard Entertainment provoked boycott calls, after it handed professional Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung a 12-month suspension for "violating official competition rules", which some critics speculated as politically driven due to Chung's vocal support Hong Kong protestsnote . Though Blizzard likely didn't take direct orders from the Great Firewall, it's been widely seen as pandering to the lucrative mainland Chinese market.
    • In retaliation to the above, many on the web have teamed up in an attempt to invoke this trope by painting the Chinese Overwatch character Mei as a pro-Hong Kong symbol in order to get the game banned. So far this has little impact, as Overwatch contain numerous China based eSports teams.
  • Plague Inc. was removed from all app stores and Steam in the Chinese market, after a few weeks of massive increases in the playerbase, both thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic originated within the country.
  • Imports and livestreams of Animal Crossing: New Horizons was banned after Hong Kong protesters figured out they could use the in-game communication system to criticise the government and spread their views uncensored. Though officially, the reason the government gave was due to Wisp the ghost being in the game.
    • This caused some great concern with game modding community in China, fearing that subsequently any created digital content will require approval by the state to publish (as to prevent spreading of dissent) and the Steam Workshop hosts a lot of Chinese modders.
  • In many stores (for example, Windows Store and Xbox Live), publishers need to have a special license from the Chinese government to be allowed to publish games in China. Without this license, people get a message of "your game was approved for the store, but its not allowed in China."

    Web Original 
  • Chinese Internet censorship is famous for its "Great Firewall", which filters all traffic through the country and blocks "subversive" or "objectionable" sites. Of course, the Chinese tend to know workarounds for this.
    • Part of the problem is ostensibly easy transfer of information; social networking sites like Facebook have been used to coordinate protests and political action the government doesn't like. But there are Chinese social networking sites, search engines, and video sharing sites, which presumably have an easier time monitoring their users and blocking sensitive content.
    • Blocked sites of note include Google's Blogspot, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, DeviantArtnote , and Tumblr. Western news sites such as BBC News, CNN, and the New York Times are also banned. Most video sharing sites are also blocked, including YouTube, although everything other than the video servers is unblocked on certain college campuses. 4chan is not blocked; make of that what you will.
    • One way to circumvent the ban is to go through a Hong Kong search engine, including Hong Kong's versions of Google or Yahoo search, which you can probably access through a Chinese hotel's Internet connection. Hong Kong is not affected by the Great Firewall, but their sites might have terms of service prohibiting access to certain content from certain regions — which you can bypass by registering a US account and changing the browser's region.
  • In July 2009, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology encouraged computer manufacturers to include a censoring software called "Green Dam Youth Escort", either pre-installed or on CD, with every computer sold in China. The idea was to help "build a healthy and harmonious online environment that does not poison young people's minds." Of course, it was plagued by the Scunthorpe Problem in its poorly-written pornography filter (which was so sensitive that it even blocked pictures of Garfield and pigs, as they have large area of skin tones, and thus appear to be pornography), a password system that was so broken that it could be "cracked by elementary school students," and alleged plagiarism of blacklists and open source code from other software. The Internet being what it is, Green Dam was also not immune to Moe Anthropomorphism; she even has her very own doujinshi game.
  • Wikipedia alternates between full ban and ban of topics such as Taiwan and the Tiananmen Square Massacre. It's been more or less un-banned in English since 2013, but Chinese-language Wikipedias are completely blocked outside of some universities, which charge students for access.
  • On January 7th, 2016, Netflix made a surprise announcement that they have become available globally, and only four countries remaining can't get them. Three of the countries (Syria, Crimea, and North Korea) remained blocked due to US embargoes. The fourth is China, although Netflix is working on it.
  • We at TV Tropes, on the other hand, remains perfectly accessible although sometimes searching gets cumbersome, as it uses Google Custom Search. The new search works perfectly well, though.
  • As of September 2018, Twitch is blocked in China.
  • Discussed by Bob Chipman in his video about Onward's lesbian character. He says that it's inaccurate to blame China for American movies having only token-level LGBT representation. China actually has a long history of queer characters and the background lesbian kiss in The Rise of Skywalker was actually left in the Chinese release without any controversy. He also says that while China has rules about what can be put in movies, they tend to enforce those rules arbitrarily and be more lenient towards Chinese films than foreign ones. This gives them more leverage at the negotiation table.
  • In September 2020, Haato Akai and Coco Kiryuu, a couple of Virtual YouTubers signed onto the talent agency hololive, had their Billibilli channels banned due to mentions of Taiwan in their streams. note  Mounting toxicity on their YouTube streams over the next few days eventually led to both Haato and Coco getting suspended for 3 weeks from 28 September 2020. The continued vitriol against hololive in China led to the dissolution of the CN branch with the Chinese talents "graduating" (i.e. retiring).
  • Videos of Yuan Teng Fei are banned on Chinese video sites, although they are still available on Youtube and other sites. Curiously, his books are still permitted.

    Western Animation 
  • China doesn't like non-Chinese animation set in or depicting China. The exceptions:
    • Mulan saw a limited release, in spite of predictions that it would be banned in retaliation for Disney financing Kundun. It even had Jackie Chan as the voice of Li Shang.
    • Kung Fu Panda saw release to great critical acclaim in China, which led the Chinese to wonder why they couldn't have made a movie like that themselves. (The main reason for that is that traditional Confucian values are so strict in terms of avoiding conflict, especially with one's elders, that many of the driving conflicts in the film would be unacceptable in China.) The Chinese fixed this by co-producing Kung Fu Panda 3.
    • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat was dubbed and aired by CCTV with no problem.
  • The Simpsons episode "Goo Goo Gai Pan", where the family visits China, is banned in the country for many reasons, but particularly because of its unfavorable reference to Mao Zedong (Homer sees his body displayed in a mausoleum and says, "He's like a little angel who killed 50 million people."), scenes parodying the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and a Chinese government official who says, "Well, Tibet used to be pretty independent."
  • Bojack Horseman has at least a temporary ban due to "adjustments need[ing] to be made to the content".
  • Subverted with Peppa Pig. Douyin, the Chinese edition of Tik Tok, banned mature videos featuring Peppa Pig, not wanting to endorse a popular gangster interpretation of her, especially to child audiences. However, original displays of Peppa Pig were not banned, considering the big popularity in China.
  • Online references to Winnie-the-Pooh are often blocked because of a running joke about how President Xi Jinping resembles Pooh. However, this often gets misinterpreted as that Winnie the Pooh itself is banned in China, which is not the case, as a Winnie the Pooh ride exist in Shanghai Disneyland.
  • Averted with Coco. Films depicting ghosts are often restricted due to the importance of ghosts in Chinese religion. However, Coco likely got a pass due to its emphasis on honoring one's ancestors and the similarities between Dia de los Muertos and Chinese traditions.
  • Neither Avatar: The Last Airbender nor The Legend of Korra has ever been released in China. This is likely due to the Airbenders being allegorical to the oppression of Tibet and the Earth Kingdom (at least in the first series) being allegorical to China in an ancient sense as well to its modern police state. Korra deals more with the politics /democratization of the world note  which is also a sticking point. The movie also was never given a Chinese release. This is part of why it’s assumed that the upcoming adaptation is going to be a TV show on Netflix rather than another movie because with the budget it’d take to do a movie properly, it’d have to come out in China to make its money back.
  • To the shock of exactly nobody, South Park was scrubbed from the Chinese internet after the episode appropriately titled "Band in China" aired. The episode in question, fittingly enough, was a critique of Hollywood for watering down their films to placate the Chinese government and featured jabs at the Winnie-the-Pooh ban, Chinese work camps, and the country's organ harvesting. Trey Parker and Matt Stone's response was about what one would expect.
    "Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn't look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?"

  • Various schools and municipalities in China have banned Christmas and other Western holidays.


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